I’d like to pick this thing apart like an autopsy. The Bobcats 2012 season was dreadful. I guess you have to still call it 2011-2012 season, because the Bobcats actually played 3 games before New Year’s Day. But does it really matter?
Actually, yes. It does matter because likely the most significant positives came in those first two games. The Bobcats actually won against Milwaukee in that first game, and former Bobcats Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston. The next game, it took a Dwayne Wade last second shot to beat the young Bobcats. Wade showing “the Superman” to Cam Newton, who was in the crowd, hopefully cheering on his hometown Bobcats, was an indelible image from the season.
No, those were the salad days. When the season was young. If you look at the big picture of the season, you see one glaring, overwhelming, undeniable truths that will likely not be pushed aside for years, if ever: The Charlotte Bobcats are the worst team in NBA history.
“The worst,” isn’t defensible. You can’t make claims like “Well, they show some promise and if it weren’t for….” No, you can’t defend the Bobcats of the 2011-2012 season. Epic futility, even in a shortened season, with a young team in flux, isn’t able to be cast aside like it was expected or a link in a chain of events that was somehow planned.
Tanking couldn’t be the reason for the lowest winning % in NBA history. Michael Jordan claims that the Bobcats weren’t even going for the most ping-pong balls. So, worst in the league, not a goal, worst ever? Far from it. I still argue we’re talking about Michael Jeffery Jordan here. He’s one of the world’s greatest competitors. They invented the quote “I don’t care if you’re playing basketball, checkers, tidly-winks or whatever, he hates to lose,” about the owner of the Bobcats. But, we all also know that his exploits as owner and executive haven’t come close to what he did as a player, even in his time with the Wizards. That says a lot.
I don’t know how to rationalize or deal with this season. It’s the worst ever! And the Bobcats are only 2 years removed from being bounced in 4 games of the first round of the playoffs. I can’t sort of put it in context. I think the sheer fact that there has never been a 66 game NBA season, never been a team win only 7 games, hell there have only been like 4 teams to finish a season with single digit wins. The nearest loss total was the ’98-’99 Memphis Grizzlies, or were they the Vancouver veriety that year? They had 8 that year, but only 60 games to get them in. The Clippers had 9 that same year. Six more chances, one or two fewer wins, the Bobcats are the worst ever.
Yeah, there may be no context. That doesn’t preclude me from trying to explain it. If I’m asked, 10-15 years from now, what that most horrible season ever was like, I think I’d have to describe it as surreal. Just a few weeks removed, I’m still sort of incredulous, laughing it off whenever I’m asked about it but deeply troubled in other ways. I was preparing for this post, picking the brains of a few fans that I talk to regularly, and it was like they didn’t want to talk about it. ”Hey man, I need some inspiration for a post.” ”In the off season after a 7-5900000 season? Good luck, sucka!” ”Man, if you had to describe what this season was like, what would you say?” ”What the hell do you mean, it was the worst.”
Yep, the worst. But what makes the Bobcats so bad? I don’t freakin’ know. Honestly, was it coaching? I don’t think so, not completely. Was it talent? Not completely, certainly there is no one on the team, that contributed regularly, that you’d call exceptional. Hell, there’s no one consistently good. But the potential is there, we have to hope it’s there. Was it injuries? Yes, of course, there was no shortage of missed games from the core of the team, but you can never blame the worst season in NBA history on injuries. The expectations weren’t high to begin with, but early disappointments and injuries likely made whole lot of people around the team say “Screw it.”
So, yeah, why were the Bobcats so bad in 2011-2012? Everything. I believe, at my old site, a site which shall not be named, I surmised the Bobcats would win maybe 12-15 games out of a full 82 games, when the original schedule was released. I can’t confirm this, because the site is down at the moment, which isn’t surprising at all. There was nothing you could count on coming into the season, and the lockout made it worse and then the first few games, as mentioned, the hopes were raised, then dashed. I am babbling because I just remember, no hopes, hopes and then absolute demolition of any hopes.
I’d love to be able to break out the scalpel and CSI the hell out of this season. It’d be all 12 CSI’s best coroners getting together and tearing the carcass of the season apart and finding the exact cause of death for each loss and every disappointment. But you know what? There is no evidence left to look at. It’s as if the victim in this case had about 4 lbs of C4 shoved up it’s ass and somebody lit the fuse. Just vapor and bits of bone sprinkled on your jacket. It’s that bad, and it will continue to be bad until the Bobcats are winners again.
Wait, again? Did I just say, “winners again?” As if there was a time, when the Bobcats were a franchise on the rise and they were actually, “winners.” There hasn’t been a time. The nexus was 2 years ago, with a 44-38 record. I’m starting to feel delusional as a fan.
The only thing that I can personally relate it to is the Carolina Panthers 2001 season. That was the season that the team won their first game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings were coming off a loss in the NFC Championship game, so the game seemed like a big one, a great win. The Panthers went on to lose, the next 15 games. Chris Weinke was the quarterback (with Jim Harbaugh on the team as a backup). It was horrible. An old, washed up George Seifert killed any chances he had of being in the Hall of Fame by completely rolling over and letting the team lose. The only redeeming factors, were the rookies. Steve Smith, Dan Morgan and Kris Jenkins were all drafted that year. All those players were integral in the Super Bowl run 2 years later.
Not watching games, embarrassing laughs when someone would ask about the team, complete exasperation and disappointment. Then two years later, I was literally dancing at the corner of Trade and Tryon at 2 am the night of the NFC Championship game. I might have kissed a hooker that night. Will we, as Bobcats fans be kissing hookers 2 years and a couple weeks from today out of sheer joy? Will Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and Byron Mullens be the guys making All-Star appearances and helping in a deep playoff run?
The answer is, I absolutely have no idea. The Bobcats may be in worse shape, to be completely honest. But, realistically, back in 2001, did you think a mouthy kick returner would be a top 5 reciever? Did you think a prima-donna overweight defensive tackle would be the run stuffer or whatever the hell Kris Jenkins brought to the game? What about Dan Morgan, in his injury laden seasons, did you figure him to be the player with more tackles than anyone has ever had in a Super Bowl? I don’t know. But all I can control, is hope. I’m just going to continue to hope that Biz and Kemba were the right picks. I hope that someone else surprising comes along, to go with some other cornerstone draft picks. I hope that a great coach comes along and totally revolutionizes the franchise. I hope assistants come along that are good enough to get head coaching jobs.
Hopes and dreams can get us by in the off season, but once the games start up again….what the hell are we going to see?